–Nick Cifuentes – Australia

I didn’t have any problems with reaching the Kili summit – I felt happy and comfortable the whole way and enjoyed the incredible landscapes and the whole experience of a night-time ascent and dawn summit. Possibly I would have been fine no matter who I climbed with as I was physically well-prepared and have plenty of experience of cold-wet camping in remote areas. However, the ClimbKili operation was excellent from the time that we booked our trip (they send a fitness plan, journal, hat and will also arrange safaris/accommodation in Arusha) to the post-climb debriefing back at our hotel after we had showered and relaxed, everything was wonderful.Each day it was a joy to take the ‘pole-pole’ pace across the amazing Kilimanjaro landscape and chat to our guides and fellow trekkers. In the places where some people might need assistance from the guides (such as ascending the Barranco Walls) they were really good at keeping our little group from being separated by other porters or climbers and making sure everyone got over each obstacle. This really helped anyone who was feeling tired or was finding the trail difficult.Despite differences in experience and acclimatisation to altitude, everyone in our team of seven made it to the summit by about 8am. I really think that ClimbKili’s high summit success is as much due to the care on the way up which leads to everyone being well-rested, confident and comfortable on summit night as it is to choice of routes and days spent acclimatizing.On the mountain all the important things were very good; sleeping tents, mess tents, toilet, guiding, porters and I think everyone that hired gear/jackets was happy with it. We got good food every day and as much water as we needed including warm water (and soap) to wash twice a day and hot water to put in water bottles to warm up our sleeping bags or to dry damp items. When we got back to the exit gate, unlike other groups that got packed lunch bag, we had live guitar and singing, a big, hot banquet and certificate presentation with cheering before piling onto the bus back to Arusha. The only thing that went wrong was that the bus to take us back to Arsuha was a couple of hours late because of a puncture, but except for one person who needed to get to the airport that day, it was no problem at all.Advice for people planning to Climb Kili: make sure your waterproof stuff is really waterproof. Stand in the shower with your jacket and rain pants if you have to – the rain can be very heave at times and arriving at camp soaked through was pretty unpleasant for those people whose gear didn’t perform as they expected. Also make sure that either your duffel/gear bag is waterproof or that everything inside is in a dry sack as your porter may also be walking in the rain for a few hours!
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